Wednesday 20 April 2016

Margins of victory

With nearly all precincts declared...

It appears Hillary Clinton has beaten Bernie Sanders in New York, achieving around 58% and winning by a margin of about 16%, and that Donald Trump has beaten Ted Cruz and John Kasich there, achieving around 60% and winning by a margin of about 20% over his two rival combined.

The story is leading the BBC News website at the moment and the language used in its main report is interesting. Despite, it seems, achieving a bigger % of the vote and winning by a great margin, Donald Trump is merely said by the BBC to have "won" and that he "looks set to extend his lead", whereas they say that Hillary Clinton has "triumphed" and is "on course for a resounding victory". 

Ah, that takes me back!...(Please imagine a load of swirling harp music as a lead-up to this flashback)...

The BBC tonight says, “French socialist Francois Hollande has won a clear victory in the country’s presidential election”….
….while report after report on Boris’s similar margin of victory gets this sort of thing from the BBC:
“London mayor: Boris Johnson wins second term by tight margin.”
“Boris had narrowly beaten Ken Livingstone”
“So by winning, albeit by a narrow margin, Mr Johnson…”
Those report that don’t say how “narrow” or “tight” Boris’s margin of victory was stress how “close” it was:
“The mayoral contest was much closer than many people had expected.”
52% Hollande, 48% Sarkozy
51% Boris, 48% Ken
Nowhere in that main BBC Online report on the French election result does the BBC reporter write, “The presidential contest was much closer than many people had expected.”


  1. That sidebar item - ' 'Is the nomination rigged?'

    Alright, I think, until it get's down to the section 'Can Reublican delegates be bribed?'. Maybe is the answer given, and 'Gold watches? Bags of small, unmarked bills? Who knows?' is the speculation on the nature of the bribes.

    Leaving aside this is an evidence free smear, why no discussion about whether Democrat super delegates can be bribed, whose price I expect would far more than a gold watch or a small bag of bills?

  2. This is one situation where I have to take a lesson from Beeboids who used to scold us over at B-BBC. Thesaurus difficulties, I think. They can't say "won" twice in the same sentence, so any other word is going to have either stronger or weaker connotations. However, the follow-up phrases for each do give away a certain biased perspective.

    And you are absolutely right about the biased spinning of percentages. IIRC, there was an Obamessiah landslide and mandate in 2012 with about a 2.5% percentage margin yet a 3% difference was defined earlier that year as a "tight" margin of victory for Boris.


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